Paul Fireman has proposed to develop a new casino south of Liberty State Park should voters in New Jersey decide in November to allow casinos outside of Atlantic City. Fireman who had earlier been the head of Reebok International launched a new ad campaign called ‘Our Turn NJ’ targeting voters in Jersey City and New Jersey highlighting the benefits of developing casinos in North Jersey.
The 72 year old Fireman who is estimated to have a net worth of around $1.3 billion believes the opposition to developing a casino in Jersey City is unfounded. Fireman prefers not to use the word casino when referring to his proposal as the gaming facility will only be a part of the $3 billion Liberty Rising project which is a two tower resort that includes a casino, a hotel, high-end restaurants, and a spa. The casino is expected to have around 6,000 slot machines and 500 tables. Fireman is confident that if the November referendum is approved, he will turn his Liberty Rising property into an icon that is a beacon of energy in Jersey City.
Liberty Rising has faced opposition from anti-casino expansion group Trenton’s Bad Bet as they believe a casino in Jersey City will increase traffic congestion. Fireman dismissed these concerns stating that patrons to Liberty Rising would make use of the ferries or Jersey Turnpike and hence the impact on traffic would be minimal. In response to concerns raised by Mayor Steve Fulop and others over increased prostitution and crime, Fireman said those issues would not be a problem since the facility will be located within a gated property next to the golf course clubhouse.
Fireman stated that voters should focus on what the Liberty Rising project would do for the local community. The project is expected to create around 9,000 part time construction jobs and 6,000 full time jobs once the resort is fully operational. The resort is expected to generate around $65 million in taxes during its first year of operation and around $3.9 billion during the next 30 years. Fireman went on to say that not everyone lives in Newport and there are a number of bad areas that could be developed. The taxes generated by the facility could be utilized by projects that target these run down localities and look to improve local communities.
Democrat and Mayor Steve Fulop is expected to run for Governor next year. He had earlier supported the gaming expansion plan in New Jersey but changed his mind after visiting Atlantic City earlier this year. Fulop stated that if the November referendum is approved by New Jersey voters but rejected by Jersey City voters, he would oppose zoning approvals and city permits to Fireman. Fulop stated that he did not expect Jersey City voters to vote in favor of the casino but if his assumption was wrong, then he would support the people of Jersey City and work towards what they want as a community.
This article has been updated to reflect that Trenton’s Bad Bet has raised concerns over traffic congestion and Mayor Fulop has warned of increased crime and prostitution.